Players Current Lineup
Cindy Blackman SantanaDrums
Cindy Blackman Santana is a virtuoso drummer whose artistry spans the realms of jazz and rock. As a bandleader and as a musician, Cindy is a sound innovator with a passion for pushing creative boundaries and exploring movement and change. She is as known for the nuances and colors she brings to her beats and fills as she is for the sheer power of her soulful playing. “Some drummers act, some react. Some keep time, others create it. Cindy Blackman Santana is among the few who can,” writes Mike Zwerin of the International Herald Tribune.
Cindy has been creating magnificent musical time and space since the beginning of her career as a busking street performer in New York City in the ’80s through the present day, touring the globe and making albums at the top of her game—including the critically acclaimed Another Lifetime (2010). In addition to collaborating onstage and in-studio with her own group—also known as Another Lifetime—she has toured and recorded with artists including Pharoah Sanders, Cassandra Wilson, Bill Laswell, Joss Stone, Joe Henderson, Buckethead, Don Pullen, Hugh Masakela, and Angela Bofill. From 1992 to 2007 and again in 2014 & 2015 she was the drummer in Lenny Kravitz’s band, performing through multiple world tours and hit albums. In 2010, she was part of the all-star line-up performing “Bitches Brew,” a tribute to Miles Davis’ seminal album staged at the San Francisco Jazz Festival and NYC Winter JazzFest.
“I think of playing as controlled freedom, and in jazz, especially, that’s exactly what you have. I love it,” says Cindy. “You know the forms of the songs, but you have the freedom to stretch over them. You want the music to grow and breathe, and you want to invite creativity from all the musicians. As you’re going along, you can change the color, the feel, the mood in different ways, or go off the chart and open it up to something new. Controlled freedom is an incredible discipline requiring a lot of focus. Improvisation like that is art in its highest form.”
More recently, Cindy has become the regular touring drummer for Santana. Having met several years earlier at a festival in Europe while she was touring with Kravitz, Cindy first played with Santana in spring 2010, when drummer Dennis Chambers had a previous commitment. "They have a great band vibe. It's nice to play with people who have grown together, built a sound together, and stayed together," she says. "When that happens, you can create so many different levels of communication. That's what they've done, and I love interacting with it."
Electricity onstage generated chemistry offstage—Carlos proposed to Cindy during a July 2010 concert, and they married in December. Looking ahead, they will collaborate artistically as well, on projects that will no doubt reflect their shared passion for improvisation, and belief in the transcendent nature of music. “To me, music is completely spiritual, it’s the way you connect with your higher self, with the universe,” says Cindy. “It’s also a way to share light with millions of people. They don’t need to speak your language, have your beliefs, or be in the same place you are. The music speaks, it channels good energy, and makes a difference in people’s lives. Carlos and I are both conscious of doing that.”
Cindy remembers first asking for drums when she was three years old—“My mom says I was born hitting things and making rhythms,” she says. She graduated from a toy drum kit at age 7 to her first professional set at age 13, and went on to play in the jazz band, concert band, and orchestra in high school. Cindy was living in New York just a few years later, and took advantage of the abundant opportunities to see legendary drummers perform live, including Art Blakey, Max Roach, Roy Haynes, Philly Joe Jones, Jimmy Cobb, Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Jack Dejonette, and Al Foster among them. Outside of the jazz realm, other greats she admires include Clyde Stubblefield (James Brown), John Bonham (Led Zeppelin), and Mitch Mitchell (Jimi Hendrix).
Cindy is currently featured on the Santana/Isley Brothers release Power of Peace, featuring the song “I Remember” which she wrote and sings. In 2016, she connected with fellow drummer and world-class producer Narada Michael Walden (Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin) and together the two have been working on new material. Cindy Blackman Santana will release the new single titled “Fun Party Splash” on Narada Michael Walden’s Tarpan Records in the summer of 2017, and continues to build a body of work and artistic legacy that make her one of the finest drummers, and recording artists of this or any generation.
His father, Javier Vargas fueled Andy’s love and passion of music. At age seven Andy started performing with his father’s mariachi band Mariachi California De Javier Vargas. Having his Father as a role model and mentor he immediately transitioned into high gear. Andy’s Mother introduced fifteen-year-old Andy to record producer’s Terry Melcher and Bruce Johnston who is a member of the renowned Beach Boys Band. Terry and Bruce soon presented the young vocalist with a management and production agreement. Both Terry and Bruce quickly expanded on Andy’s ability. His dedication to his music career earned him a recording contract with RCA / BMG. The contract was negotiated and finalized by record executive Ron Fair.
Andy’s love and commitment to the arts had paved the way for his future. In 1999 his then manager and music legend Lou Adler brought an audition to Andy’s attention. By the year 2000 Andy started to tour as a singer on the Supernatural World Tour with Carlos Santana. Today Andy still tours and delivers vocals for the Santana Band while developing his new production company Vargas Entertainment.
Bassist Benny Rietveld brings an impressive resume with him. After moving to Hawaii from his native Utrecht, the Netherlands, he attended the University of Hawaii College of Music for two years. Island dates with artists such as The Crusaders, Richie Cole, Barney Kessell, Howard Roberts, Bill Mays, and Makoto Ozone followed, until he moved to San Francisco in 1983. He joined up with Sheila E.'s 1984 tour, who was then opening for Prince on the "Purple Rain" tour. Dates with Huey Lewis and the News followed that. He then signed on with Miles Davis for his 1988 World Tour, as well as working with Davis and Michel LeGrand on a Warner Bros. soundtrack.
Recently, Benny has released an album entitled "Mystery of Faith". The album can be described as "odd, eclectic, yet eminently listenable music." The CD, his first solo effort, also includes performances by Carlos Santana, Tom Coster, Barbara Higbie and other friends. The mostly instrumental collection will take you from the Middle East to Middle Earth, with various stops in between. To learn more about Benny Rietveld or to listen to excerpts from "Mystery of Faith", visit him at bennyworld.com.
David K MathewsKeyboards
David K Mathews has been playing professionally since 1975, performing on the piano, electric piano, hammond organ, and synthesizers. At age 23, Dave joined the legendary Funk/Soul group Tower of Power, replacing original organist and legendary Santana keyboardist, Chester Thompson. He toured with the group for 2 years. Since 1990, Dave has been organist/pianist with Grammy Award winning Queen of Rhythm & Blues, Etta James. He has appeared with her at most of the worlds' major jazz and blues festivals.
Dave has appeared on 7 of Ettas' recordings, Life, Love and the Blues (Grammy nominee), Heart of a Woman (Grammy nominee), Matriarch of the Blues (Grammy nominee), Burnin' Down the House Live at the House of Blues (Grammy nominee), Let's Roll (2003 Grammy winner), All the way (Grammy nominee), New album (soon to be released).
Dave has performed on U.S television, radio , and video including the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Jay Leno , the David Letterman Show, Austin City Limits, Tavis Smiley, Regis and Kelly etc.
Known in the S.F bay area as an eclectic musician with the ability to play many musical styles in an idiomatically correct fashion, Dave has worked and/or recorded with such diverse artists as:
Sheila E, Boz Scaggs, Maria Muldaur, Ray Obiedo, Taj Mahal, Charles Brown, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Fred Wesley, Pee Wee Ellis, Robert Cray, Robben Ford, Toots Thielmans, Jimmy Witherspoon, Plas Johnson, John Handy, Houston Person, Red Holloway, Bill Watrous, Herb Pomeroy, Bonnie Raitt, Peabo Bryson, Cold Blood, David Grisman, Otis Clay, Albert Collins, The Memphis Horns, Vassar Clements, Gatemouth Brown, Huey Lewis…
Further credits include performances with Herbie Hancock, George Duke, Dr John, Tito Puente, Armando Peraza, George Benson, The Marsalis Brothers, Bobby McFerrin, Jaco Pastorious, Marcus Miller, Delbert McClinton, Chaka Khan, Leroy Vinegar, Jimmy Heath, Frank Foster, Warren Vache, Paquito De Rivera, Harold Land, Roy Hargrove, Kenny G, John Sebastian, Gregg Allman, Phoebe Snow, Bernard Purdie, Paul Butterfield, AL Kooper, Otis Rush, Willie Dixon, Rufus Thomas, Joseph "Zigaboo" Modeliste, Leo Nocentelli, George Porter, Mike Clark, Steve Smith, Bernie Worell, Roomful of Blues, Cornell Dupree
and now Santana...
Karl Perazzo since the age of 2 has played some kind of drum or other. At age 7 he played in a band that his mother and father formed. From there he became unstoppable and went on to play with Cal Tjader while only in the 6th grade.
Karl Perazzo, born and raised in San Francisco's Mission District, has gone on to play with the best in Pop, Jazz, Rock and Latin Music. The self-taught musician is currently playing with the Santana Band. He has recorded 3 albums with Santana, one being a Live album in South America.
He has also recorded and played with Malo, Jorge Santana, Cal Tjader, Dizzy Gilespie, Andy Narrel, Ray Obiedo, Tom Coster, Pete and Coke Escovedo, Dennis Chambers, Sheila E., The Artist, Mariah Carey, Paquito D' Rivera and is on the latest John Lee Hooker album.
Karl Perazzo has also sat in with the best in Latin Music, such as Tito Puente, Machete, Ruben Blades and others. Perazzo is not only known nationally, but internationally as well. He is known to have recorded with some of the best acts in Japan and Italy.
In addition to all of the above, Karl has also performed on an array of TV shows, such as American Bandstand, Soul Train, Solid Gold, Jay Leno, Johnny Carson, David Letterman, The Grammies, The American Music Awards, and was the first percussionist to be invited to sit in with The Arsenio Hall Show house band on more than one occasion, and to perform on his 100th show.
Aside from all this Perazzo still finds the time to travel the country doing clinics for the Latin Percussion Music Group. He strongly believes that the knowledge he has is not his to keep, but to be shared with people around the world!
The newest member of Santana. Paoli joined in September 2013. Latin Grammy nominee Paoli Mejías is a distinguished master percussionist from Puerto Rico, ranked among the best in both Latin jazz and salsa. As a bandleader Paoli fuses straight-ahead jazz with African, Mediterranean & Caribbean folkloric rhythms to create a new dimension of Latin jazz that is global, energetic, and modern.
Performing for more than 25 years, Grammy nominee Paoli Mejías has already distinguished himself as a young master percussionist and is ranked among the best in both salsa and Latin jazz.
Born March 7, 1970 in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, percussionist Paoli Mejías' rise to Latin jazz fame is a story of sweat and dedication. Completely self taught, Paoli purchased his first set of congas at age twelve, inspired by records of conga great Carlos "Patato" Valdes and Latin jazz innovators Batacumbele and Irakere. Learning by imitating the sounds he heard on the records, Paoli taught himself the language of the congas without the benefit of an instructor. By his mid-to-late teens, he could be found at jam sessions in the streets and on the beaches of San Juan. He earned invitations from bandleaders like Rafú Warner, José Nogueras, Glen Monroig and Charlie Sepúlveda. As he worked his way up the live music food chain in Puerto Rico, Paoli found himself performing alongside the Latin jazz legends who had inspired him in his early years.
Paoli's résumé includes top jazz and salsa artists like Tito Puente, Dave Samuels, Dave Valentín, Paquito d'Rivera, Chick Corea, David Sánchez and Danilo Pérez, who all have called on Paoli for his unique blend of melodic sensitivity and blinding technique. As Puerto Rico's first-call conguero, Paoli has performed and recorded with artists like Luis Enrique, Marc Anthony, La India, Tito Puente, Seis del Solar, & Eddie Palmieri with whom he toured the largest jazz festivals for more than a decade. Paoli's discography as side-man includes more than 20 commercial recordings, among them Grammy nominated "Acuarela de Tambores" by Alex Acuña, and Grammy Award winner "Masterpiece" by Eddie Palmieri and Tito Puente.
Ray Greene is a singer, producer and multi-instrumentalist living in Boston, Massachusetts. Being brought up in the shadows of the great Soul/R&B legends of our time, Ray is equally adept at the traditions of Gospel, Jazz and Blues.
Ray Greene has performed with several of the biggest names in the fields of Pop and R&B, such as Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Rick James, and NKOTB, to name a few before joining Santana. His Gospel release, titled “Songs of Hope, Inspiration and Joy”, garnered much critical and commercial success. Ray’s latest recording, called “Heaven Bound”, was recently released on his SoulVision Records label. He also co-produced a Christmas project with well-respected pianist Dow Brain for Underground Productions called “Tell Me the Story of Christmas”, also on SoulVision Records.
Ray wrote, produced and performed his first solo disc entitled “All About You/All About Me.” It was released in the UK and received rave reviews.
His voice has been featured on commercials for Converse sneakers (with basketball superstar Magic Johnson), ESPN, Cadillac, Bose Speakers, Fox Television and Walt Disney Productions.
Greene produced the music for and starred in an educational rap video sponsored by the US State Department for school-aged children called the “Lady Bug Law.”
Tommy AnthonyGuitars and Vocals
Born in New york and raised in Miami, music found Tommy at a very early age. "I didn't choose music... it chose me." Completely self taught and without any type of formal lessons or training, Tommy displayed an uncanny talent for learning, and by his early teens played several instruments [drums, guitar, piano and bass]. "It was strange, really... things would seem to come easily, although I was really most competent on drums and guitar." During these early years, he also developed a strong singing voice which eventually led to him fronting every band he ever joined [all of them rock-based].
By his late twenties, he found himself doing sessions as a guitarist and vocalist. "Even today, half the producers I work with hire me as a singer and the rest call me for guitar work." The studio work led to touring with many artists, among them Steve Winwood, Jon Secada and Gloria Estefan.
"Working with Jon was never work... we spent 8 years touring and having a blast. As for Gloria, the last 5 years with her and The Sound Machine have been an absolute joy. I called her when I got the Santana gig and she flipped... she was so happy for me. That tells you a little something about her."
His recording credits include Shakira, Ricky Martin, Julio Iglesias, Cristian Castro, Mandy Moore, and dozens of other major artists. He even found his way to soundtracks, singing the closing theme on the film, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."
Now with Santana as a guitarist/backing vocalist it all has come full circle for him. "For years, Carlos' influence has been not-so-subtly present in my approach to guitar and soloing in particular... Now I get to play with the man himself. It's unreal."